Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ryan Watches a Motion Picture #29: House of the Devil (2009)

When I first saw the case on the shelves, I imagined the entire movie in my brain - it was going to be cheesy, poorly made, filled with awful dialogue, and a waste of time. I tend not to give new horror films much of a chance, and usually judge a genre flick by its cover. If it hadn't been for the two or three customers that made a point to say "Hey, have you watched House of the Devil? It's actually pretty good," I'd have missed out and become a serious Nicky No-Watch. That's about the worst thing I could be, apart from a Neddy No-Review.

House of the Devil was fantastic. What's absolutely amazing from the get-go is just how believably 80s they make the film feel - and not in such a way as to diminish the film and make it seem kitschy. It just looks, sounds, and plays out like a lost film from the early 80s. From the hair to the camera work, fashion to body type, body posture to soundtrack, to the yellow coloured credit sequences and to the film's overall cadence, you're really served a good portion of the kind of old horror-film-watching feeling you might have been craving for some time. It feels at points like a Kubrick film, which is very high praise in my world, and wields a quiet, drifting, tension-filled camera extremely effectively. House of the Devil takes itself very seriously, and presents you with some serious fear. Not a cheap scare to be found.

So: The best horror film I've seen since The Descent.


  1. this glowing review has totally inspired me - i'm about to watch it right now, and i'm pretty damn excited :)

  2. okay so.... the art direction is flawless, and the pacing is wonderfully intense with its drawn out when-is-the-shit-gonna-hit-the-fan?? stuff. i loved her exploring the house, it was stressful!

    alas, when the shit DID hit the fan, i was a little "meh". i guess i needed to be more invested in the characters, or something.

    i liked the rosemary's baby undertones (and the yellow and white kitchen in the opening shots!), but let's be honest - a wacky older couple has only ever worked once as the villains... no one has been able to pull it off effectively since polanski.